The second time around. King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden visits Tacloban on November 21 to check the progress on the construction of boy scout building funded by the king himself. Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla(left) and Vice Gov. Carlo Loreto (behind Petilla) welcome the monarch. (GINA P. GEREZ)

TACLOBAN CITY- King Carl Gustaf XVI said that he was impressed on how Leyte, particularly Tacloban, now looks like two years after it was pummeled by supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

The Swedish king, who arrived at the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport at 9:26 in the morning last November 21, was in the city to personally check on the progress on the construction of a two-storey building intended for the Boy Scout of the Philippines(BSP)-Leyte Council. His visit was said to be of private one though there were several Presidential Security Guard members trailing him as well as members of the local police. Members of the local boy scout also lined up along the streets to welcome the king who was dressed in the boy scout attire. “From the plane, there is a tremendous change. The last time I came here, it was very gray and now it’s green,” the king said.
King Gustaf first visited Tacloban, ground zero of the world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall, last January 26 last year. During his first visit, the king went to the boy scout building of the province which was destroyed due to Yolanda and led in the turn-over of uniforms to scout members in the city. In all his engagements, the media were allowed to cover them but his Saturday, the media were informed that the king wishes not to be covered except for a 30-minute press briefing held at the VIP Lounge of the DZR Airport.

In his interaction with the media, the king underscores the importance for the young scouts to know more and value on environmental protection. “(The) scout movement is one of the world’s oldest environmental movements in the world. We help educate people…on climate change,” the king said. It was learned that the newly-repaired two-storey boy scout building in Leyte will not only be used for activities related to the scout movements but even about disaster preparedness The king emphasized that scouting helps develop young people and be prepared especially during calamities. “In scouting, we want to help the young boys and girls harness their potentials and develop their skills and be prepared especially during disaster,” Gustaf said. After the press briefing, the king immediately left the VIP Lounge and motor his way to the boy scout building located along M.H.del Pilar Street that is under construction and expected to be finished by February next year.

He led in the unveiling of the marker for the said facility. King Gustaf, who is the honorary chairman of the World Scout Foundation, donated P7 million for the construction of the building. The Swedish king also met the beneficiaries, parents of boy scout members of Tacloban, of a livelihood project he sponsored. The project involved in the giving of carabaos and sari-sari stores.

The king also visited the shipwreck located in Anibong district that was converted into a memorial park as well as another Yolanda monument located inside the compound of the astrodome along Sagkahan district before his return to Manila at 2 pm.  The king was welcomed by provincial officials led by Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Vice Gov. Carlo Loreto and Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla. Gustaf was joined by Scott Teare, secretary general of the World Organization of the Scouts Movement(WOSM); Mark Knippernberg, deputy director of the World Scout Foundation(WSF); Goran Hagerdal, WOSM global director and John Geoghegan, director of the WSF.